Monthly Archives: March 2013

RECAP & REVIEW: Survivor….The Season So Far

Wow.  Survivor really decided to bring the crazy this season didn’t they?   Between Phillip, Shamar, and Brandon there is plenty of insanity to go around.   But is it really making for an enjoyable season?   When does the exploitation of someone’s mental state cross the line from good old fashion entertainment to down right cruelty and absurdity?  Can the producers, casting department, and psychologists really detect someone who is truly mentally unstable or just being aloof for TV purposes?   Is it fair of us to expect them to forecast expectations of behavior?   I know, I know, it’s a TV show.   Furthermore, it’s a REALITY TV show.   But since this is the hot topic this week after Wednesday night’s disaster that was Survivor Caramoan, I’m curious to hear what people think.

I wasn’t excited when Phillip and Brandon were cast this season.  I thought it was stunt casting to be quite honest with you.  Phillip I thought was just a bad player.  The only reason to bring him back is because he is nuts and to watch his insanity rankle the other players in the game.  The whole Stealth R Us thing, while mildly entertaining for the viewers, I can imagine it wearing really thin out there.  So I was dead set against Phillip this season.  However, I have to say, as annoying as he can be, I give him props for many things.  The first being that he’s been great in the challenges.  Of course everyone expected Malcolm and Brenda to do well because they’re great athletes.   But I don’t think people expected much from Phillip and he’s held his own and actually has been a pretty integral part of them willing several challenges…including this week’s coconut tossing competition.  The second would be him really trying to take charge of the game.  Many people, myself included, really gave Phillip grief for riding the Boston Rob train the last time he was on.   He was Boston Rob’s stooge willing to do whatever his master told him to do.  And Rob rode Phillip to $1 million.  This time, it seems, Phillip is taking charge of the game and not riding anyone’s coat tails.  Now he may be rubbing people the wrong way in the process and I’m not saying he’s doing a masterful job at running the show.   But he’s at least not waiting for his fate to befall him.  He is going out and taking charge and charting his own course to what he thinks will be the million dollar prize.  Will he succeed?   Who knows at this point.  His biggest problem is that he doesn’t know how to take charge of the game subtly.  He needs to let everyone know he’s in charge and that may be his downfall.   Is it because of how poorly he was painted in his last showing?  Perhaps.  But Phillip Shepard needs to let everyone know that he’s in control and that you’re either with him or against him.   The final reason I’m giving Phillip props is for how he handled the Brandon situation.  Unfortunately, because of what I just outlined in point #2, Phillip really rubbed, inadvertently, in Brandon’s face how he will dictate Brandon’s fate in the game.  Not the smartest move on Phil’s part.  But does that mean he deserved what Brandon did to him (and everyone else on the tribe for that matter?)   No.   I’ll get more into the Brandon thing in a minute but I really applaud Phillip for walking away from him at camp when he was really getting to a boiling point and I respect the way he held his composure when Brandon was coming after him before the immunity challenge that was never going to take place.   The only thing he did wrong, was talk about Brandon’s family.  In my opinion, leave everyone’s personal life out of it.  Just stick to what’s happening on the island because you don’t know these people, you don’t know their home life, so you can’t judge or throw that in their face.  Just leave it alone.  Other than that, Phillip kept his calm in handling Brandon.  Honestly the whole tribe did, which floored me, but again, more on that later.  Was I happy with the Phillip casting this season?   No.  Is working my nerves as much as before?   Not yet.  Do I respect his game play more this time than last?   Yes I do.

So let’s get into Brandon.  I seriously think that kid’s unstable.  I’m not saying that to be funny or rude.  I seriously think there is something wrong with him.  He was crazy the first time he played and he was just as crazy this time.   The first time around, he got rid of Mikalya because she filled him with impure thoughts of lust.   Well I can’t see a better reason to get rid of someone!  Plus his mood was all over the place…completely bi-polar.  One day he was up, the next he was down, then he was kind, then he was rude.   He didn’t know who or what he wanted to be.   He wanted to be filled with God but then he would curse and threaten people.  It was bizarre.  So why would we expect anything less this time around?   Because, according to Jeff Probst and other producers, they thought he had changed.   Let’s talk about this.  Probst and the producers/casting department have been getting a lot of heat for bringing back Brandon.   The thought out there is that even though they knew he was unstable, they put him out there anyway because they thought he would bring in ratings.   If this is true (and I’m not saying it is) it would be dumb on so many levels.  Number one because this kid doesn’t bring ratings, he actually stops them.  I know people who didn’t watch this season because he was on there.  They couldn’t deal with another Hantz love fest, especially with “the crazy kid” as one of my friend’s put it.  Number two, you can’t risk putting a mentally unstable young man in an environment that will test his sanity everyday.  Number three, you can’t do that to the other contestants (making them live with a crazy person) it’s unfair to them.   I could go on and on.   So I honestly believe that while they may have been nervous about Brandon, they saw enough in him to warrant giving him a second chance on the show.   Where I will give up on Survivor, is if they decide to bring him back a third time.   I can forgive a mistake now.   But after two disastrously mercurial seasons with Brandon, bringing him back again would be down right abhorrent. He has proven to be a truly hot mess.  The fact that he has kids and another one on the way is down right scary.   And I know I just yelled at Phillip for judging someone’s personal life without knowing them so I am being the ultimate hypocrite, but I can’t help it.  I’ve seen and heard interviews with this kid outside of Survivor and to say it was bizarre is an understatement.  He’s usually incoherent and flighty, to be kind.  It’s frightening to hear his complete lack of self-awareness.  He really has no clue.  I heard Probst say that they immediately had a psychologist on set to talk to Brandon after the whole debacle and that it is standard for the show to appoint a psychologist or psychiatrist to help Survivors after the show or help them find a doctor in their area for support.   That’s actually nice to hear.  And I hope Brandon takes them up on it, but I doubt he will.  In an interview with Dalton Ross (who is the best Survivor recapper ever) on his podcast, Brandon talked about how great life is and he’s great and he’s not crazy and that he’s so proud of the way he played the game.  What?????   You’re proud that you took food and dumped it all over the island so that no one in your tribe would have food.  That makes you proud?  Whatever bro (as he likes to call everyone.)   Speaking of the food dump, is that not the most insane thing you have seen on this show?   I’ve obviously never been on Survivor but even I know that food is like gold out there.  All you have is rice and now they give you beans.  But that’s it.  You’re weak and tired and the only sustenance you have is rice and beans.   And that asshole, to prove some sort of point (I’m still not sure what) dumps it all over the ground.  What I found interesting is that Malcolm or Erik didn’t pile drive him to the ground during the rice part.  I know when he grabbed the bean container Erik made a half ass attempt to retrieve it from Brandon but he backed down pretty fast.   I have to wonder if it’s because they were seriously afraid of what he might do.   At this point they’ve all been living together for what 11-13 days?   Maybe everyone was really terrified of him because he was so unstable.  I’m not trying to make this more dramatic than it was, but it does make sense.  I mean come on….when they got back from tribal council, he was talking about how he thought about burning the shelter down!!!  If I was Corrine, my first question would have been “with us in it?”   Yeah he was talking about peeing in the rice and beans, but HE TALKED ABOUT BURNING THE SHELTER TO THE GROUND!   What is the matter with him?  That is why I sincerely hope the rumors about Brandon failing his psych test for the show are wrong.  Because that would be beyond egregious.

So because of all this mayhem, the Favorites decide to do what I absolutely hate in Survivor…throw the challenge to go to tribal council so they can get rid of Brandon.  I hate when teams do this.  It’s the dumbest thing in the world.   You’re annoyed by someone, you’re up by big numbers, and you think it’s no big deal to throw one little challenge.   WRONG.  It’s absolutely the worst idea ever.  However, this situation was the exception to that.  In this situation, I have no problem with the Favorites doing what they did.  This was beyond someone annoying them.  I really think this was them wanting this ticking time bomb, who could possibly be a danger to himself or someone else (mainly Phillip) off the island because it was safer for all of them.  I really believe that.  Look at the way they all dealt with Brandon.  When he became accusatory towards any of them, they backed down.  Even Corrine, who’s as combative and strong and nasty as they come, wouldn’t touch him with a 50 foot pole.  And I have to say, HUGE props to Jeff Probst for his handling of the situation.  Even though the man rubbing was a little weird, I don’t think Jeff could have handled it any better.   It was obvious this could have escalated into something physical (especially when Phillip when after Brandon’s family.)   Probst did the smart thing by bringing Brandon over to him and away from his tribe.   He was able to calmly talk to Brandon and everyone else so he could get a clear idea of what was happening and how this was all going down.  As a result, he had a tribal council right there where everyone voted him out.  I have to wonder what would happen if something did get physical on the island.  Is there security there?   Do the producers expect the contestants to handle it?   Would someone get kicked off the island or put in time out?   What would happen?  I wonder if they have a protocol in place.  I’m sure that they do.   And if they didn’t, I’m sure that they do now!!

Ultimately, I’m glad Brandon is gone.  I think it was a monstrous mistake to bring him back and all of us fans at home thought the same thing.  I don’t think I read one pre-Caramoan review that said what a brilliant idea it was to bring back Brandon.   But, we’re also looking at it from just the scope of his first run on TV.   These producers are really vetting these contestants to make sure they can do this again.  At least I hope they are.   So they get to see more of Brandon in a different light than what we get to see.  Therefore, they made the decision to go for it and it blew up in their face.   I really hope this is the last time we see any Hantz on Survivor.  And I really hope they think long and hard about who they bring back and who they cast.  I know they want personalities because that brings better ratings.   And there’s nothing wrong with drama on Survivor…it’s part of what makes the show so great.   I get all that.   But I think they really need to draw the line at unstable.   Because if they don’t, the very thing they are trying to get, is the very thing they will push away and be gone to the point they won’t be able to get it back and the show will be dead.

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Posted by on March 15, 2013 in CBS, Recaps and Reviews


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RECAP & REVIEW: Smash…The Season So Far

I’ve made it pretty clear before that I am a musical theater/Broadway junkie.   I love it.   So when Smash premiered last year, it was right up my alley.   Of course, what started out as a great premise and show slowly deteriorated into an unrecognizable mess that didn’t know what it wanted to be.  The Golden Gate Bridge at daybreak was more clear than the direction of Smash.   But after the major changes in the off-season, I had high hopes Smash would pull it itself together….and it has!   The worst part, no one has stuck around to see it.

Right now I’m invested in two things…Bombshell and Ivy’s career path.  The biggest miss right now (and my biggest disappointment) is Hit List and the storyline with Jimmy and Kyle.   I was so excited to hear Jeremy Jordan was joining the show.   He’s fantastic.   But this character is awful.  I’m actually more interested in Kyle than Jimmy because there is this sweet vulnerability to Kyle and this green, ideological, passionate spark to him that is really fun to explore.  But Jimmy?  Does nothing for me and therefore, other than the fact that he’s adorable, what the hell does Karen see in him?  He was rude to her, condescending, arrogant, and a jerk.   Well if that doesn’t scream “I must be with this person” I don’t know what does.  Her taste in men is truly atrocious.   And can I throw something out there?   Why in the world are Kyle and Jimmy treating Karen like she’s Patti Lupone?   The last I check, no one has ever heard of her, she’s never been on Broadway before, so why are they treating her like some huge Broadway star that’s going to help them get their break?   Because she knows Derek?   A guy whose reputation on the Great White Way is marginal, at best right now?   It doesn’t make any sense to me.   So I wish Hit List, and everything revolved around it, would just go away.   And Karen can go with them.

I know I’ve been hard on the character of Karen and Katharine McPhee, but it’s so easy.   I’ve said it before, I could listen to McPhee sing the phone book and love it.   But the acting?   Wow…not good at all.   It’s why I’ve never been able to believe in her for this part and I’ve never really been able to believe in Derek if he sees this “something special” in her.   Really?   She has something special over Ivy/Megan Hilty?  Really?   I think it’s another reason I’ve never been able to buy Karen.  Ivy blows her away.  Her singing, her acting, her stage presence….she’s the whole package.  It also doesn’t help that I’ve actually seen Hilty in several Broadway shows and she’s magnificent every time!   Hilty is a bona fide star.  So next to McPhee, it’s not even close.   I also don’t like the way the writers started write Karen as a pretty big bitch.  I know she had every right to hate Ivy after all the horrible things she has done to her and if I were her, I’d probably be as cold to Ivy as she has been.  But it’s not just Ivy.  In the rehearsal room she’s short and testy.   If she’s given direction she refutes it snobbishly.  I’m sorry, when did she win all her Tonys and become worthy of telling people what to do?   Wait, let me back up.   When did she even act on a Broadway stage?   Oh that’s right…NEVER.   She had a tiny bit of success in out-of-town tryout and that’s it.    Yet she’s acting like she’s been on a Broadway stage for 20 years (and not in a good way.)   I’ve never been a fan of the Karen character and this season, I like her even less, and I didn’t think that was possible.

But what I’m loving is how this show is getting back to the behind the scenes of musical theater.  I’m a fan of the Hit List storyline, no.   But what I do like is that we are seeing two young people with a passion for music and theater, trying to make a go at their dream.  We see two very inexperienced kids who are trying to figure out how to make it in this business.  I look at it as we’re seeing Tom and Julia before they were Tom and Julia (and with a lot less charisma.)  Speaking of T&J, their storyline is great.   We’re seeing Tom and Derek bond in their own twisted way to get this show to Broadway.   We see Julia doubting herself more than ever wondering if she really is as talented as she thought.  Instead of her BFF helping her get her mojo back, it’s a dramaturg who Julia hated and wasn’t sure she could trust, that set her straight.  Now we’re to the point where Julia’s new draft is amazing and Derek thinks will win every award in June (when the Tonys are) but Jerry, who is now the producer because he’s a douchebag, and Tom think the original draft is better…Jerry thinks it will sell more tickets, which as the producer is his job to decide, and Tom thinks it tells more of the story of Marilyn instead of the men who created her (which is more the focus of the new script.)   All four go to Eileen to decide which script they are going to go with.  It’s an interesting dynamic for the Tom and Julia relationship.  We’ve pretty much seen them on the same side always having each other’s back at every turn.   So now to see them on opposite sides is quite the shift.   I certainly don’t think their relationship (personal and professional) is in any danger but it is fascinating to watch how this project is dividing certain people and bringing others closer together.

I still say when it’s all said and done…Ivy will be Marilyn.   Karen will become so attached to this new project that she will leave the show and Liaisons will fall apart and Ivy will be asked to come back and be Marilyn.  That’s my guess.  And secretly, my hope!   It’s just a shame this will be the last season for Smash.  It’s really found its groove this year and is a much stronger show.   But too many people walked away and haven’t come back so I don’t think NBC will have any other choice but to cancel it come seasons end.   I just hope we get the finale we deserve as fans or maybe we get an 8-12 episode pick up to wrap it up next year.

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Posted by on March 11, 2013 in NBC, Recaps and Reviews


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